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The act states that the capacity to consent to sexual relationships must be assumed unless proven otherwise and an unwise decision does not necessarily imply a lack of capacity. Research that reviewed cases on the capacity to consent to sexual activity highlighted failures in the implementation of the act and suggested a reframed capacity assessment informed by research into sexual decision making. Special dating agencies can enable people with learning disabilities to find relationships and broaden their social networks. The decade has seen a growth of friendship and dating groups for people with learning disabilities, including HeartVenture , Luv2meetU and matesndates.

They match people interested in forming relationships and support them on their first date. Stars in the Sky, one of the first to be set up, by two women with learning disabilities, is now unfortunately closing due to financial constraints. It also featured in The Undateables, and it is clearly evident from the series that support can enable people with learning disabilities to form relationships. And success is not only measured by a successful date but by the confidence that individuals gain by going on a date, too.

I was struggling to find anyone on my own. And I want, I guess what every girl, woman would like to have partner or companion to share things with. I hate being on my own and being miserable. Relationships have a positive impact on mental health and the well-being of people in general. This also goes for people with learning disabilities, and for it to happen their sexuality must be acknowledged.

They need support to allow them the opportunity to form and develop relationships, and they should be empowered with the tools they need to consent to sexual relationships. Hopefully, if we get these things right, people with learning disabilities will be able to enjoy forming relationships in a safe environment, and fulfil their need to love and be loved.

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Chido Ndadzungira , The Open University. Love by Shutterstock My research explores the views and experiences of women with learning disabilities on sexual relationships and as part of my PhD I gave them a platform to talk openly about this taboo subject. As Monica told me: When Barbara was asked why she had joined up, she said: As Georgia, one participant in a study , said: Protection from abuse People with learning disabilities — both men and women — are vulnerable to sexual abuse and need protection from this.


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Monica, for example, said: Dating agencies Special dating agencies can enable people with learning disabilities to find relationships and broaden their social networks. Holding a candle for someone? Lonely by Shutterstock Stars in the Sky, one of the first to be set up, by two women with learning disabilities, is now unfortunately closing due to financial constraints.

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